It's been 18 years since South Africa marched to democracy...one would think we have progressed and are liberal, but it's the opposite. We have the highest HIV prevalence, more than 5.7 million are living with the virus but there is just little or no support for them...from judgmental health care workers to uninformed family members and friends. For most people an HIV diagnosis places them in vulnerable positions, which can lead to depression and other health problems. You would think another person who has been on the same shoes would likely help you out, but no! Not in this country.
I know after my diagnosis I did my out most best to get in touch with people of the same status, but because I'm not public and vocal about my status my efforts were in vain. It sort of felt like some of them were saying: you weren't there for me through my diagnosis why should I be there for you, thus you have to support yourself. I know there are organizations like TAC and PLWHA but do they reach the majority in need? Are they broadly distributed? I'm afraid not...and you wonder why people are not openly disclosing their status. I break down stigma into two categories: stigma fueled by ignorant people and stigma within the HIV community. most organizations offer limited support for newly diagnosed individuals (more support needed). I'm not writing this to be controversial but I'm shedding light to what is happening in my country or rather what I have encountered. Hopefully people will start trying to overcome this problem because not everyone is stronger on their own...support from other structures is crucial.